A Reader Asks:
Am I the only one who feels like there is nobody to date? I am a 29-year-old single; I have dated the people potentially suitable for me in my area (and several beyond!) and none of those relationships worked out. I do get additional suggestions, but they are mostly out of left field and are not what I am looking for. Does my bashert (soulmate) even exist? Any suggestions on how to move forward? I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall.
Dating Coach Rachel Burnham Responds:
This always makes me sad to hear. When I hear this, I often recommend going through the list of those you’ve dated in the past to see if there is anyone you may consider giving a second chance. If that doesn’t work, I’d suggest you analyze the relationships you turned down to see if you can detect patterns. Did you turn down relationships because they were missing features you wanted, or because they were missing features you believe you “must” have? I believe there are many couples who could be happily married but unfortunately never make it to that point due to superficial details that stand between them and the aisle.
We live in a world that largely defines who we are by external traits and accomplishments. “What do you do?” “Where do you live?” “Where did you complete your degree?” These questions tell us very little about a person’s true character.
Does it really matter that she is two years older? Can you live comfortably with someone who is a brilliant entrepreneur but never went to college? Can you feel proud to be with a woman who is not as glamorous as you imagined, but has the caring personality and wit of someone you would want as the mother of your children? When we invest more in building the superficial rather than the meaningful, we find ourselves struggling to make deep connections that transcend the external.
There’s another culprit behind the tendency to reject relationships for external reasons. In my coaching practice, I’ve found a common pattern of people with low self-esteem who have an extremely specific list of musts for their potential partners. This is not about their dating partner; it’s about them trying to fill in the gaps they believe they lack — and it never works.
We must develop the healthy self-esteem necessary to see ourselves and others in a genuine and undistorted way; this work toward building that self-worth pays off immensely in dating and marriage. When we build our deeper selves, we attract different types of people and allow more sides of each person we meet to emerge. Sides we may connect to well.
Instead of giving up, why not dust off the black book with the willingness to revisit the character, personality, and inner world of another? When assuming we’ve rejected those that didn’t measure up, have we examined if we ourselves measure up? If we can’t truly accept ourselves, it will be that much harder to truly accept another.
Let’s use this Purim to unmask our true inner self and commit to exploring the inner landscape of another special human being. Let’s free ourselves from external trappings that engulf and define us, so that we can find a deeper and more meaningful place of empathy and connection. May the unmasking of the hidden gems within all of us lead to an even shorter distance to your longest relationship.
By Rachel Burham